Many people believe that physical fitness and health have to be expensive to maintain. But to be honest, all it takes is putting on your shoes and going for a walk. Just one 30-minute walk daily can improve your mental and physical well-being in drastic ways. Find that hard to believe? The American Heart Association says that you don’t need to run to help prevent heart disease. Just walking at a fast pace can help lower the risk of high cholesterol, diabetes, and high blood pressure just as much as running can.
A two-year long study published by “Respirology” says that walking for two miles every day can help reduces the risk of being hospitalized due to severe episodes of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which is a disease of the lungs that makes it hard to breathe. Walking is an aerobic exercise that helps increase the flow of oxygen in the bloodstream, and not only helps train your lungs, but it can also help eliminate waste and toxins. Now let’s move on to the metabolism.
We understand that your metabolism increases the amount of calories you burn, which helps you regulate your weight. One of the worst effects of not moving around is metabolic syndrome, which is having increased cholesterol/blood pressure, high blood sugar, and fat in your waistline. It can turn into heart disease, diabetes, and even death. A study published in “Circulation” says that doing cardio exercises, like walking, can stop the syndrome, and sometimes, even reverse the damage. Intensity is the key, though, so make sure you’re mixing it up between fast and slow walking.
Walking every single day has amazing benefits for your brain’s health. And all you need to do is get those feet going. A study that focused on the effects of exercise on the brain says that walking can benefit your memory, learning, reading, cognition, and even your brain’s size! But there’s more! Walking also helps protect your brain by decreasing the risk of cognitive illnesses like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
It doesn’t matter who you are, if you were told there was a way to make yourself look younger, you would definitely want to know the secret. According to research posted in “PLOS One,” scientists have found that cardiovascular exercise, such as walking, can help preserve or even lengthen your telomeres, the part of our DNA that shortens as we get older. But remember to put on sunscreen if you’re walking outside. You wouldn’t want to negate the effects.
We can’t stress enough how important bone health is, and doing weight-bearing exercises is one of the best ways to build up bone density. And what’s the easiest way to do that? Walking, of course! In a large study done by Oxford, adults that walk on a regular basis have better bone density than people that don’t. People that have strong bones can avoid osteoporosis and the problems associated with it like fractures, spine shrinkage, and disability.
Many people disregard their pancreas, but you definitely shouldn’t. The pancreas secretes enzymes, or digestive juices, that go into the small intestine. Once they’re in the small intestine, they break down food that’s left in the stomach. The pancreas also produces a hormone called insulin that is secreted into the blood stream, where it then regulates the amount of glucose, or sugar level, in the body. A study that took place over six months showed that a group of people that walked had glucose tolerance (how well the cells absorb blood sugar) six times greater than a group of people that ran.
“Live Science” published a study that says that regular, moderate exercise, such as walking briskly, can increase a person’s life expectancy by several years, even for people who are overweight. Another separate study says that people that walk often tend to be happier. They feel more enthusiastic and excited about their future than people that tend to just sit around all of the time.
You may not believe it but doing something as simple as taking a walk could actually improve your eyesight! The “Journal of Neuroscience” published a study that said that people you regularly participated in aerobic activity had healthier eyeballs and were actually less likely to have problems such as age-related vision loss and retinal degeneration. Taking a brisk walk every day could also help fight glaucoma by relieving eye pressure.
You may have been told before to take a walk after eating a big meal and that’s because it can have a huge impact on your digestion and get things moving. Research has also shown that people that exercised constantly for at least ten years have a lower risk of dying from colon cancer. The first author of the study, Dr Kathleen Wolin from Washington School of Medicine, said that even though most benefits were seen in those that exercised their entire lives, you don’t have to work out for hours every day or run marathons to benefit. “You get enormous ‘bang for the buck.’ You go for a 30-minute walk every day and you’re going to reduce your risk of a number of diseases,” she said.
Considering that walking is exercise, it’s safe to say that your muscles can benefit greatly from the activity. If you walk at a brisk pace, you power your body by using the muscles in your bottom, midriff, and the backs of your thighs. Dramatic, sustainable results can occur. There’s actually a reason why 10,000 steps a day is recommended – those steps can be counted as a regular workout at the gym, especially if you add in some uphill walking. And since walking is low-impact, you don’t need as much time to recover. What do you do if you’re in pain?
Walking can improve your back health, as well. But how? Walking helps strengthen the muscles in your legs, hips, torso, and feet. Walking also helps increase your spine’s stability and conditions the muscles that keep your body in the upright position. Walking also helps nourish the spinal structure. When you exercise by walking, you’re helping promote strong circulation by pumping nutrients into your soft tissues and draining out toxins. It also helps improve your posture and flexibility. If you incorporate stretching into your walking you can give yourself a greater range of motion, which prevents awkward movements and decreases chances of future injuries.
Everyone of us wants better sleep. One of the most important things you can do for yourself is get those full eight hours of sleep every night. But as most of you probably know, it’s not always that easy. In a large meta-analysis of sleep studies, researchers have found that people that regularly walk have longer and better quality sleep. And for those that suffered from insomnia, walking helped reduce the amount of sleepless nights they went through. What do you do if you’re stressed out?
Every single human experiences some sort of stress, but walking can actually help that. “The American Journal of Cardiology” published a study that says moving around helps clear out the “stress hormone” cortisol out of your system. Walking also helps get rid of that constant stream of worries going on in your brain. Also, if you’re outside walking with a friend, you also receive the calming benefits of companionship and nature. That’s definitely a win-win.
The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons recommends walking for at least 30 minutes daily for five days a week, in order to see the benefits on the musculoskeletal system (bones, ligaments, joints,tendons, and muscles). Walking helps slow the development of arthritis, builds bone mass, increases joint flexibility and range of motion, and is low-impact on your joints. Now that you know all of the benefits of walking, why are you still sitting there? Get your feet out the door and get on your way to improving your health!